The Food of Scotland

Find out about the foods traditionally associated with Scotland...

The Scottish diet has always been robust. Warming broths were made with porridge, lentils and barley, and the national dish, haggis, immortalised by poet Robert Burns, was guaranteed to fill empty stomachs. Consisting of sheep or calf offal mixed with suet and oatmeal, squeezed into an animal stomach and then boiled, haggis inevitably tastes better than it sounds. The larder north of the border continues to harbour some fine produce. Salmon and trout are found in the clean, cold waters and the Highlands and forests are rich with a variety of game including partridge, grouse, and deer. Aberdeen Angus, a hornless breed of black cow that can be traced back to the 12th century, is world-famous for its beef, while the long-haired Highland cattle also produce good meat. The ostriches that have begun appearing on the moors, farmed for their meat, have a shorter Highland pedigree.

Scottish delicacies include Cullen skink (a soup of smoked haddock and potatoes), Arbroath smokies (salted and smoked haddock), grouse stuffed with rowanberries and Aberdeen Angus steak with a whisky sauce. Cranachan, a mixture of toasted oatmeal, whisky, cream and raspberries, is a traditional dessert.

Three great Scottish foods:

  • Mealie pudding: More like a sausage actually: a cream-coloured affair filled with oatmeal, onions and suet
  • Clootie dumpling: A bit like the haggis' sweeter cousin: a ball of beef suet, flour, breadcrumbs and dried fruit wrapped in a cloth (or cloot) and simmered for hours on end
  • Scotch broth: The tradtional versions tended to feature mutton and pearl barley, simmered at length with various herbs, vegetables and whatever else was to hand
Extract from Speak the Culture Britain, a Thorogood publication, supported by the British Council Speak the Culture series website / Buy online Copyright ® 2009 Thorogood Publishing